Soliana. Where did you go? Where could you have possibly gone? The world is too big and I am too small. I shouldn’t have left so soon. I should’ve said goodbye first. Surely you knew I was coming back… you had to. I could never leave and not come back.
Not when you’re there for me to come back to. It was foolish for me to ask you to leave with me, your parents have been nothing but kind and tolerant. Their requests seemed so daunting for someone of my status.
I did it though. I got the titles, but when I came back…
I’m not losing my mind. I can’t be. I know you existed. I know you still do. Oh, Ana… where did you go?
I’m just the stable boy - the stable boy who loved you more than I should’ve ever been allowed to.
Why doesn’t anyone recognize you? Even your own parents… it’s like the world has been wiped of all traces of you.
I can’t go back to your old home. I cannot look your parents in the eyes after they so quickly pretended you didn’t exist. It was horrifying because I don’t actually think they were pretending. They seriously believed they had no children. They believed they never had you.
Edmund at the market, Sarah, Jayme, even William - it’s like some kind of magic. The way their eyes clouded with confusion at the mention of your name. The strange looks they gave me, the way they asked if I was even feeling well.
How could I feel well when you were gone, Ana?
Maybe I am out of my mind.
Surely you existed…?
I’m not sure it matters anymore. It’s been too long since I’ve seen a meal. I don’t have the strength to carry on anymore.
I’m sorry, Ana.
Two sets of feet, who else could possibly come for me?
“That it is. Come on, son. Up we go.”
The house was silent as a man sat in his office, paperwork adorning his desk on all sides of him. He ignored it all in favor of twisting his ring around his finger, resting his head against his other hand. He carefully rested his hand down on the desk below him before rubbing his worn face slowly.
His gaze fell to the ring again and he let out a long breath. It didn’t seem to matter how long he stared at it - it never gave him the clarity he sought.
A knock on the door jolted him from his thoughts and he straightened himself.
“My Lord? Did you fall asleep at your desk again?” A woman opened the door and looked at him with a smile spreading on her face.
The man felt his lip twitch slightly into a hollow smile. “I do not sleep at my desk.”
The woman walked over to a bookshelf, looking for something there as she spoke. “Oh? Then what were you doing yesterday when I caught you, my Lord?”
He leaned back into his chair and stretched slightly. “I do not sleep at my desk. I was just… resting my eyes.”
The woman found the book she was looking for, pulling it out and flipping through it before putting it back quickly. “Need I remind you how long I’ve known you, Agonin?” She laughed.
He sighed and shrugged. “Some… 2,000 years now?” It felt like longer in his head.
Everything moved at a crawl and it never seemed to matter how much work he buried himself with.
Agonin looked at her flatly. “Minha, you have too much time on your hands if you’re keeping count.” He never liked thinking back that far. His head was still a wreck from then. His eyes stared down at the ring on his finger and he idly twisted it.
“Don’t be silly, Agonin, I always remember the days that are important to me.” She laughed as she turned to face him yet her face grew serious. “That can’t be good for your health, you know.”
He looked up at her and she gestured down towards his ring. He felt his mood souring further all at once. “Minha…” He warned her.
Yet she persisted. “Agonin, you’ve seen what that man is capable of doing. Zachurr was a twisted man who knew too much and used his magic unwisely on petty things.” She took a step forward, growing bolder. “That ring symbolizes all he’s done to you-”
She didn’t stop. “He made her up! She didn’t exist! He drove you insane with a woman who doesn’t exist for fun because he knew my father was looking for his replacement as God of Order and he knew that you were it!” She bent down slightly towards the desk, her eyes pleading with him. “My Lord,” She kept hoping he would relent, yet he was only growing colder. “Agonin… Jack-”
“Enough.” He breathed, pinching the bridge of his nose. Not that name. He long left that name behind, along with everything else he couldn’t bear to think about. “Is there anything you need, Minha?” He dismissed her.
She opened her mouth when the door opened again. “My Lord? Forgive the intrusion - the God of Magic and Madness is here to see you.” It was Lucas who poked his head in, looking slightly overwhelmed.
Agonin straightened in his seat further and he looked at Lucas with concern. “Is everything alright, Lucas?”
Lucas looked around nervously before he shrugged lightly. “The Lord is… uh… hanging from the ceiling, sir.”
Agonin slumped forward slightly and a very slight smile tugged on his lips. Leave it to the madman to interrupt at the perfect time. “Send him-” He was stopped at a loud crashing sound of someone falling off the ceiling and he let out a slight cathartic laugh. “Send him in, Lucas.” He shook his head. “And toss out whatever it was he just broke.”
“Yes, my Lord.” Lucas disappeared into the hallway as Agonin turned his gaze back onto Minha.
“My Lord, you push yourself too hard. It's been so long… I just think it's time you put it away and looked forward.” Minha shifted and stepped back. “Maybe-”
“Sir Rigid!” Majnun had pushed Lucas to the side and slammed the door open wide as he entered. “I fixed one of your vases for you - with my face!” He grinned deviously before moving to sit awkwardly in the chair across from Agonin. Majnun turned his gaze to Minha and gave her a questioning look. “Oh dear, did I interrupt your moment to kiss him? Truly sorry.”
Minha’s eyes filled with anger and hatred, she opened her mouth to speak when Agonin held up his hand. “I know you didn't come here to get under my High Priestess's skin, Majnun.” His gaze turned to Minha, “why don't you and Lucas take care of business in Monte Vista?”
Minha sucked in a breath and nodded before walking tensely to the door and vanishing through it.
Majnun clicked his tongue and raised an eyebrow. “Curious.” He looked at Agonin with eyes slightly glazed over. “Curious, indeed.”
Agonin sighed and looked over at the Mad God before a teasing glint filled his own eyes. “I would ask if anyone is home, but I already know the answer to that.” Agonin snapped his fingers in front of Majnun's face.
Majnun jolted and looked startled. “This isn't my bathroom…?” He laughed insanely. “Close enough, I suppose.” Majnun shoved himself up from the seat he was in and leaned across Agonin's desk. “Austere One, I have a favor to ask of you.”
Now this was highly unusual for Majnun. Majnun collected favors, he did not ask for them of people. Agonin raised his eyebrows slightly, but his face remained level. “Perhaps I should get Minha back in here, it appears I've fallen asleep at my desk and am having a ridiculous dream.”
Majnun laughed darkly and Agonin could tell the ask was serious based off of his tone. “Skelly Boy is having trouble with some Shades and Death Keepers.”
Harken. He had heard the rumors that the God of Death was having trouble with the Land of the Dead, but there was something off about the entire thing. There was plenty of things off in the Pantheon and it gave Agonin a headache just thinking about it. He heaved a heavier sigh. There was so much work to do. “I've heard.” Agonin responded levelly. “Is this where the favor comes in at?”
Majnun tipped his head and gave him an oddly serious look. “Yes and no. See, oh Rigid One, I think I've discovered something… intriguing.”
Majnun wanted a sounding board. He found something off the wall that fits, but he's curious of Agonin had any missing pieces to fill in. Agonin narrowed his eyes with curiosity as he looked to his old friend. “You think it's something bigger, don't you?”
“You were thinking so yourself, no?” Majnun immediately made the connection with his response.
“I had my speculations. Things just don't feel right. The reactions are too perfect.” Agonin shook his head in thought. It was odd to make the connection that Majnun and he often had the same thought processes. On the outside they seemed like entirely different people, but inside - inside they were much the same. Old-school, perhaps, but it had gotten them the titles of cranky-old-men by the rest of the Pantheon.
Anything to keep the rest of the children in line, Agonin supposed. Majnun tipped his head to the side loosely. “Indeed. Much too perfect. I have a bad feeling about Irena too, understandably so. Besides the utterly stupid stunt she pulled with my daughter-in-law, she’s stirring things up and stepping where she doesn’t belong for someone who just rose recently. Maybe it's just my distaste for her, but tell me you don't feel the same?”
Agonin tipped his head, knowing this was a delicate subject for his companion. “Irena is awfully aggressive for someone as new to the Pantheon as she is, and her excuses for what happened to Olivia only barely kept her out of the fire.”
"Indeed." Majnun finally threw himself back, off of Agonin’s desk roughly and into the chair behind him which moved with the force of his weight. “I have a hunch, old friend, and I don’t want to pursue this hunch alone.” He grumbled as he adjusted himself to sitting oddly again, seeming restless. “The Land of the Dead becoming restless and Irena causing trouble... I think we may need to poke our old noses in and get a whiff of things for ourselves.”
Agonin bit his cheeks, he was not fond of inserting himself into the lives of the other gods - that was how wars got started, yet it seemed there was already a war - if not two - going on right under his nose anyways. “You wish for me to step into a war.”
Majnun looked up at the ceiling and Agonin could tell his mind was clouded with many thoughts, finally his eyes grew serious and he let out a long breath, moving to sit more normally in his chair. “I’m asking you to help me as a friend, because I have a bad feeling about this and I would like to know I'm not alone in my thinking.”
He couldn’t argue with that logic - he couldn’t argue at all. Agonin nodded firmly. “How many of my people should I bring with me?”
Majnun’s lips twitched into a slight, weary smile before he pursed his lips in thought. “Keep it small, the more people there the more we’ll have to account for later. This will not be good either way.”
“Let me know what else I can do to help.” Agonin slouched slightly in his seat and let out a sigh. “It seems like the world is always a mess. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Not off the top of my head, Austere One.” Majnun raised an eyebrow with an upward twist of his lips. "Except maybe for you to take a vacation once and a while."
“As if.” He shook his head with a laugh. “The whole world would fall apart if I did.”
“I figured as much.” Majnun grumbled, crossing his arms before he jolted forward and stood, he turned to walk away when he spun around quickly, a crazed look in his eyes. “Oh! Twiddle-dee! How did I almost forget? You know…” He laughed and Agonin resisted rolling his eyes as he waited for Majnun to get a hold of himself. Majnun calmed and continued. “Smarty-Pants found something that’s got your name written all over it.”
Agonin raised his eyebrow slightly. “Do tell?”
“Zachurr.” Majnun rolled over the name, his face darkening. “Seems there’s more people out there that you saved by killing him.”
Agonin stiffened at the name, his whole body tensing as he gritted his teeth. He took no pleasure in killing people - that was what he told himself every day, yet he could not deny that he had loved every moment of destroying that man who had tried to ruin him. Just when Agonin felt like he had stomped out all traces of him, the slime seemed to keep spreading and showing up elsewhere.
“You should go do what you do best and stick your nose into things. Irena’s got the little flower all tied down in her silly book-hoarding, pristine-” he couldn’t even finish the phrase before he half-gagged and shivered. “It’s worse than your place here - and it’s hard to get worse than white walls and floors, let me tell you.”
Agonin let out a sigh and resisted pinching the bridge of his nose. If he kept that up he wouldn’t have a bridge to pinch anymore - but boy did the world try to test him. “Do I even want to know what Irena is doing?”
Majnun grimaced and scowled. “I don’t usually care what Smarty-Pants is up to, but lately I just want to shake my cane at her and tell her to get off my lawn.”
Agonin slumped forward this time and rested his head into his hands, roughly brushing his hair back before he wearily looked at Majnun once again. “I swear I fell asleep at my desk one day and woke up to the Pantheon all reverting to being children.” He gritted his teeth and began mumbling. “‘She’s touching my things!’ and ‘he’s looking at me! Make him stop!’ Malice is throwing a temper tantrum in the corner and Irena is pushing every button she possibly can get her fingers on. Harken is punching anyone that moves and Ambar has been insanely quiet lately which cannot mean good things for us… Does it ever end?”
Majnun snorted. “Perhaps in death, but Time is so rigid about those things - almost makes you look relaxed.”
Agonin laughed dryly. “You know very well that in death we will be haunted by all these pesky children fighting over things and blowing themselves up.” He finally let himself sigh and he rubbed his face slowly. “I’ll add ‘check on Irena’ to my list.”
Perhaps if he pushed hard enough people would start cleaning up after themselves instead? He should speak for himself. His whole life was a mess. He was just a mess and he knew it. His eyes flickered to his ring and back up to Majnun who was watching him carefully. His face was serious and his voice even more so when he spoke. “You really need a vacation.”
Agonin felt himself smile slightly and he shrugged. “That’s been on my list for over 500 years, Majnun, along with sleeping for longer than an hour at a time.” It really wasn’t something he should complain about - even jokingly. He could take a vacation whenever he wanted. By the Essence, he didn’t even need to bury himself under with this work or even care this much. It just made things easier for him when he didn’t have to be left alone with his thoughts and failures.
Majnun nodded and sighed. “Leave Smarty-Pants and Bat-Boy to me. You help me out with Harken tomorrow and then you can take a nap.” His voice dropped and he grumbled, turning for the door again. “Can’t make any promises for how long though…”
“I’ll take what I can get.” Agonin chuckled before waving slightly. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Majnun, and thank you.”
Majnun turned back and gave him a cheeky smile before vanishing into the hallway and out of the house. Agonin slumped into his seat and he returned to staring at his ring.
I’m sorry, Ana.